Why these things exist in the first place is a whole system fail. I do love Aldi, but when I flipped through their catalog and I saw this Fisher Price think and learn exercise bike for PRESCHOOLERS, I dropped a big ‘WTF‘, right in front of my whole family. My husband laughed and was like, “Oh… mummy needs her mouth washed out with soap.”
The gimmicks out there are incredible and marketers work really hard on making innocent parents feel like guilty sacks of crap for, heaven forbid, letting their kids play without learning ‘something‘.
As if riding a bike weren’t hard enough for a preschooler, now we can learn our phonics while we ride! Actually, it’s pedalling a stationary bike that develops none of the decision skills, gross motor skills and vestibular system that riding a real bike would do.
Let’s making learning ‘fun‘ (insert vomit). This type of learning, where the learning has little to do with the game, is called ‘gamification‘ and gamification is a buzz word right now amongst big corporations who want your money. I wish there was a bullshit police who could stop companies from creating products that are designed to prey on well meaning parent consumers (we’re the biggest suckers of all)… but there isn’t. So, you need to monitor your own bull honkey. The educational tools that get kids to exercise while they learn are the biggest sack of baloney on the market.
Kids that age have energy. Yes, it’s true. They have an endless source of energy for bouncing off walls, floors, couches or anything else that they feel like bouncing on or off of. Kids that age NEED to move their bodies. They NEED unstructured playtime to learn how to figure out tricky things with their bodies. They need to do things like learn to use their hands to break their falls, or to learn how to balance walking on a log, curb or any other thing that requires balancing on. Even in places where the weather is horrible 85% of the time (I grew up in one such place), or if they live in a concrete jungle, kids that age still need to play outside (or indoors) as much as they can. For the long term health and mental well being of society, kids need to be active so that they’re healthier. It’s simple.
Of course, kids need to learn ‘stuff’ too. “Learn” as we like to think of ‘learning‘, as in ABC’s. And they will. At that age, you would have to try and physically stop a child from learning whatever they are developmentally capable of learning.
The complicated and stupid thing is to mix exercise with curriculum. When kids play and get exercise, they’re learning, but they’re not learning the things that the curriculum says they need to learn. A child who has had adequate exercise and meaningful connection time, will most likely be able to learn what the curriculum says he or she needs to learn.
Also, it’s been proven that multi tasking doesn’t improve performance. So, if you’re riding a stationary bike, or bouncing on a ball, or doing something else WHILE you’re trying to learn, you’re not really focusing 100% on either thing that you’re doing!
Now, I know some people will say that this toy could be very useful in the inner city, where it’s not safe for kids to go outside and play. Or, where the weather is rotten. Or, in low socio-economic areas, where kids don’t get enough time talking or reading with their parents. Or, in some other isolated scenarios. But, the price tag of this educational item doesn’t exactly fit the demographic, now does it??
Also, adults have these things in gyms, so why can’t kids? Kids will be playing on their iPads anyways, so why not?? Well… let’s not be the enabler, ok?
And, what about the kids who fidget too much while they’re sitting down? Another system fail because kids (especially kids this age) need more exercise and they’re not getting it.
I haven’t actually used this gadget. It could be cool…. Like really, it could be. Yes, it could be true. I may be more full of it than Fisher Price. I may actually have no idea what I’m talking about. But, I’m still not backing down on anything I’ve said until the research comes out proving that getting kids to ride, wobble, fidget, balance or spin, improves how they learn curriculum content. The whole idea of getting kids ready for kindergarten, and why it’s not neccesary, is a whole blog post in itself, but I’ll save that for another time.
Anywho… my rant is over. Let the kids ride bikes. Let the kids learn phonics. But, not at the same time.